While we may earn a commission if you buy something through these links, we make unbiased, independent decisions about what to recommend.
Sure, candles are nice, but if you want to give a holiday gift that won’t end up gathering dust, consider a brain-teasing game. They can challenge and develop the player’s thinking skills and, depending on the game, encourage spending quality time together.
In this brain teaser games list, we’ve included a few classics such as chess, puzzles, and backgammon, along with a couple of trending options (Wordle fans, keep reading), so there’s something for every type of adult gamer.
Can you believe 100 puzzles fit into this 5×5 stocking stuffer? The origami-style game challenges teens and adults to think critically and tests their visual-spatial skills.
Choose between five beautiful laser-cut mazes with built-in mechanics that make it hard to figure out how to move the metal ball through them. Well, hard but not impossible. The Flower maze is the easiest to solve, followed by Double Trouble. Good luck with solving Hidden Corridor, Star Path, and Waiter’s Tray.
2022 was the year of Wordle (for proof, look at your Twitter feed), so if someone in your life is a diehard fan of the game, they will appreciate this board game version. It has seven alphabets and comes in classic and neon colors. Oh, and did we mention it’s much harder to cheat on than the online version?
If you like the idea of making someone work to unwrap their Christmas gift, then this escape box-slash-gift-box will do the trick. It has 52 puzzle pieces that will take approximately an hour to solve.
Commemorating the Chinese New Year (which begins on January 23, 2023), this high-fashion jigsaw puzzle has 529 pieces depicting a tiger on a Louis Vuitton trunk (because, fashion). Glossy looks aside, the box has a convenient plexiglass drawer that houses the pieces so they won’t end up all over the floor (or worse—in a Ziplock bag).
With 1,000 pieces, this puzzle will take hours to arrange. So while this is a great individual present, it will also make for an excellent activity for the whole family on Christmas Day.
Talk about mind-bending. This 131-piece jigsaw puzzle, based on a photo from the Hubble Space Telescope, has an infinite number of combinations with no edges and no fixed shape. It’s almost like creating your own galaxy over and over again.
Okay, this is not your childhood Tic-Tac-Toe set, but that’s precisely why it’s on this list. This beautiful resin-and-wood set comes in a brass tray and doubles as coffee-table eye candy. So not only does it test problem-solving and strategy skills, it also looks pretty chic.
Jonathan Adler’s pastel-hued backgammon set has a high-gloss look for an eye-catching twist on the classic game. Even when not in use, it makes for a gorgeous home decor accent.
Elevate a friend’s mah-jong game with this handcrafted set made from mango wood. It comes with a matching box to store all the pieces and tiles.
These days, we work standing up, so why not play a game of chess the same way? Instead of encouraging someone to sit for hours pondering their next chess move, give them this wall chess set that hangs on a wall. A special marker indicates the players’ last moves, so they can easily pick up where they left off, even if that happened a few days ago.
Fair warning: this is not your casual, Friday-night puzzle you can arrange while conversing about the newest brunch spots. It features seven types of shapes and 300 pieces that must be placed in a Tetris-inspired cityscape. Trust us, it sounds easier than it actually is, but it makes for an excellent gift for the puzzle (and geometry) lover in your life.
Just because someone takes chess seriously doesn’t mean they won’t appreciate this contemporary version of the game’s pieces. It comes with a beautiful leather board and custom figures in striking metallic finishes.